A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile

By Hans Pedersen, August 2015 Issue. 

Two undressed women are making out in the hot and heavy opening scenes of A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile. These scenes, from the documentary written and directed by Sophie Deraspe, are a bit deceptive, but well-suited for this slight-of-hand tale of a blogger who’s writing about life as a lesbian in war-torn Damascus.

The fascinating story is told from the perspective of Sandra Bagaria, a woman living in Canada who sparked an online romance with the author of a blog called “A Gay Girl in Damascus.” The blogger, by the name of Amina Arraf, wrote about living in war-torn Syria. But what starts out as a love story and political thriller unexpectedly turns into a cautionary tale.

The two become acquainted as Amina tells Sandra she grew up in both Syria and the U.S., with the text from their online conversations appearing on screen. Their virtual romance quickly grows steamy, as an actress plays Amina in several recreated moments.

Soon there’s a culmination of interest around the globe about the author of “A Gay Girl in Damascus” and even The Guardian publishes an interview with Amina from Syria, conducted online.

Among the re-enactments are interviews with other bloggers and journalists, including a gay Middle Eastern reporter who talks about how the boldly written blog empowered the anti-Assad movement in Syria.

And then, one day, the author of the blog abruptly vanished, and Sandra learns from a cousin that Amina was kidnapped by the Syrian secret police. Sandra worries about her girlfriend’s potentially horrific fate.

But then, more staggering revelations upend Sandra’s life, throwing her romance with the famed blogger into turmoil. And when the U.S. State Department and CNN start digging into Amina’s background, the story turns downright surreal. Rather than spoil the secrets of the film with a Google search, viewers might choose to watch the documentary with a clean slate.

This fascinating storyline flips around 180 degrees from a Middle Eastern uprising documentary into a cautionary tale about deception and the illusory allure of the web. Watching the truth play out will certainly be a different experience for audiences who already know the story, compared to viewers who have not heard about “A Gay Girl in Damascus.”

The swift pacing and clever method of storytelling help insure the truth is kept a secret in the first part of the film, which culminates with a surprising conclusion. The director even lands an interview with the elusive blogger that caused the firestorm. And, in the course of the movie, Deraspe explores the ramifications of the surprising deception for traditional media and online activism.

This captivating Canadian documentary, which premiered in the World Documentary Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is available via the SundanceNow Doc Club streaming service here.

Keep readingShow less
WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less